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TOPIC: Using This Site's Playscripts In Production

Using This Site's Playscripts In Production 8 years 1 month ago #2262

  • Marcus
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So I don't know if I'm the first director to use playshakespeare's texts in production, but I'm probably one of the first. So I'd like to start by thanking the admins for their hard work. It's truly wonderful to have access to FORMATTED scripts online.

I have a few suggestions that I think could help make this site useful to all actors and directors: currently, I'm in the process of cutting "Cymbeline." (I wrote in the directing forum about how much I hate cutting. But I've been forced by various circumstances to make cuts in this case.) Naturally, I want to use playshakespeare's excellent scripts as the basis for making cuts. I then want to post the cuts online for my actors. I've set up a private wiki for that purpose.

But I've discovered that it's a bit of a nightmare to cut/paste from this site and maintain the formatting. Luckily, I'm enough of an HTML expert to get around the problems. But there are a few things that would have made it much easier:

1) in the source code for the scripts, it would be great if there was some sort of commenting, e.g. blah blah blah [!--scene ends here].

2) line numbers would be really, really helpful. In rehearsal, you need a quick way to refer to a section of the script. Saying, "lines 47 through 49" helps orient everyone.

I recommend numbering in the left margin, rather than to the right of lines, as is often done with Shakespeare texts.

It would be really easy, via some sort of batch process, to add line numbers and comments to all playscript pages. If the admins don't do this, I will do it myself for my own private work. But it would be great for this to be made public for everyone.

I have one much more pie-in-the-sky suggestion: hire a programmer (if you don't already have one on staff) to create an annotation system. Then open it up, so that users of the sites can write text notes. There is NO place you can go (online) to see annotated Shakespeare. You can get raw scripts here, at gutenberg.org and plenty of other places, but if you want notes, you have to buy a book.

Over time, this really could become the site where all experts and enthusiasts go for texts, because these texts would be always evolving and getting richer, via notes.

I've thought about this for years, and I've always figured I'd make my own Shakespeare annotation site some day. I will if you won't! You should scoop me and do it first!

Having said that, I have a bunch of ideas about how to make such a system user-friendly and useful. I'd be happy to discuss this with admins if they're interested.
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Using This Site's Playscripts In Production 8 years 1 month ago #2263

  • William Shakespeare
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marcus wrote:
So I don't know if I'm the first director to use playshakespeare's texts in production, but I'm probably one of the first. So I'd like to start by thanking the admins for their hard work. It's truly wonderful to have access to FORMATTED scripts online.

That's great to hear. No, you're not the first, but it's not very common that people mention it. :)
marcus wrote:
I have a few suggestions that I think could help make this site useful to all actors and directors: currently, I'm in the process of cutting "Cymbeline." (I wrote in the directing forum about how much I hate cutting. But I've been forced by various circumstances to make cuts in this case.) Naturally, I want to use playshakespeare's excellent scripts as the basis for making cuts. I then want to post the cuts online for my actors. I've set up a private wiki for that purpose.

That's a great idea. If you ever need a private Wiki for anything in the future, we'd be happy to set one up and host it for you.
marcus wrote:
But I've discovered that it's a bit of a nightmare to cut/paste from this site and maintain the formatting. Luckily, I'm enough of an HTML expert to get around the problems. But there are a few things that would have made it much easier:

1) in the source code for the scripts, it would be great if there was some sort of commenting, e.g. blah blah blah [!--scene ends here]. [/quote] Yes, we're in the process of doing exactly that, but it's long and arduous. A few months back, we updated all of our texts in a pretty extensive proofing process. More info here: [url=http://www.playshakespeare.com/news/2241-major-update-playshakespeare-texts-improved]http://www.playshakespeare.com/news/224 ... s-improved[/url] Then the iPhone happened and we switched gears from version 3 of the texts to iPhone-formatted versions, which required the sort of code you mentioned. [quote="marcus":2iuijkka] 2) line numbers would be really, really helpful. In rehearsal, you need a quick way to refer to a section of the script. Saying, "lines 47 through 49" helps orient everyone. I recommend numbering in the left margin, rather than to the right of lines, as is often done with Shakespeare texts. It would be really easy, via some sort of batch process, to add line numbers and comments to all playscript pages. If the admins don't do this, I will do it myself for my own private work. But it would be great for this to be made public for everyone. [/quote] Line numbering has been a big point of discussion in the past. The longer version of the explanation is here: [url=http://www.playshakespeare.com/about-us]http://www.playshakespeare.com/about-us[/url] Different browsers and screen sizes will cause the prose lines (and some verse lines) to wrap differently. Pasting the texts into Microsoft Word, you can instantly and automatically add line numbers with a simple click. That being said, we're developing a system for adding them if you want them and removing them if you don't. [quote="marcus":2iuijkka] I have one much more pie-in-the-sky suggestion: hire a programmer (if you don't already have one on staff) to create an annotation system. Then open it up, so that users of the sites can write text notes. There is NO place you can go (online) to see annotated Shakespeare. You can get raw scripts here, at gutenberg.org and plenty of other places, but if you want notes, you have to buy a book. [/quote] Yes, we have a programmer but this has been yet another point of discussion. The issue is that the comments/annotations (let's say on the bottom of each scene page) would become so extensive it would likely make the page cumbersome. The thinking was to point users to the forum for annotations and the inevitable accompanying debate. That would also centralize all discussion in a single place instead of having some information in one place and potentially duplicate information in another. As of today, we could flip a switch and have this functionality today. An example is the comment/rating system on the bottom of news items: [url=http://www.playshakespeare.com/news/3634-playshakespeare-now-free-on-iphone-itunes]http://www.playshakespeare.com/news/363 ... one-itunes[/url] Our online glossary is another item where users can submit definitions for terms in the texts. Unfortunately, our recent site upgrade forced us to completely rewrite this part of the code and isn't quite ready for primetime yet. [quote="marcus":2iuijkka] Over time, this really could become the site where all experts and enthusiasts go for texts, because these texts would be always evolving and getting richer, via notes. [/quote] Absolutely. That's been part of the thinking about the site in general, which are aspects that give obvious superiority over printed editions. [quote="marcus":2iuijkka] I've thought about this for years, and I've always figured I'd make my own Shakespeare annotation site some day. I will if you won't! You should scoop me and do it first! Having said that, I have a bunch of ideas about how to make such a system user-friendly and useful. I'd be happy to discuss this with admins if they're interested.[/quote] Sounds like you've independently arrived at the same kinds of issues plaguing the "Shakespeare World" we have...which is part of the reason this site exists. We've tried to balanced functionality with being highly usable for novice users (both Internet novices and Shakespeare novices) and expert users alike. It's a more complex balancing act than many think. We're always open to discussing ideas for improvement and encourage users like yourself to contribute in any fashion they wish. This site is community-driven and information is licensed under the GPL, so we freely give and hope to freely receive. :) If you want a direct line for discussion, email me at [url=mailto:william@playshakespeare.com]william@playshakespeare.com[/url]
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Using This Site's Playscripts In Production 8 years 1 month ago #2264

  • Gedaly Guberek
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I'd have to agree that most of those suggestions would really help put this site at the top of the list, and I'm sure you're doing the best you can so I won't add on to those.

Since it was brought up, I'm actually a fan of not having the line numbers in the text on the site for the very reason that if I need them for a cutting of a script that I am going to make I will most likely add them myself in Word.

What every you choose to do with content and features of the website it would seem that you have here some excited folks who would be more than willing to contribute (myself included), if asked, to help make PlayShakespeare.com the #1 online Shakespeare resource.
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Using This Site's Playscripts In Production 8 years 1 month ago #2265

  • William Shakespeare
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Feel free to add on as much as you like...If it makes sense and is doable, we'll add it to the list of things to do. Believe me, that list has a lot of items on it.

As I mentioned before, if you have any specific ideas and want to discuss them and/or how you can contribute, feel free to drop an email.
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Using This Site's Playscripts In Production 8 years 1 month ago #2266

  • Marcus Geduld
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In a way, these debates about whether or not to include something like line numbers are silly. But they're only silly in a theoretical world -- in the real world where people have limited time and resources, I'm sure you have to make some painful compromises. But In my view, it's ONLY worth compromising due to resource/time issues.

When it comes to line numbers, the answer is easy: make it an option. Line numbers []on [.]off.

Same with annotations. The text should appear plain and simple by default. But -- time/resources allowing -- advance options could be toggled on.

I think it's okay to have annotations in the message board. But only if there are links from specific points in the text to message-board-posts.
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Using This Site's Playscripts In Production 8 years 1 month ago #2267

  • William Shakespeare
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Absolutely.... I'm a big fan of empowering people and giving them options. Everything we do on this site has that in mind. Trying to take a "big picture" view of things is the first step in creating functionality that ultimately makes sense.

Keep the suggestions coming! :)
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Using This Site's Playscripts In Production 8 years 1 month ago #2268

  • Gedaly Guberek
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I think for the sake of easy access for new visitors, I don't think that registration should be required to view the full text page. It's kind of a roundabout way to get to the text when not logged in. I think that someone visiting to look at a play text - in an ideal situation - would click on the side link, get the text they want in a minimal amount of clicks, then realize that they like the site and want to explore more, so they register.
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Using This Site's Playscripts In Production 8 years 1 month ago #2269

  • William Shakespeare
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This is an conundrum that many debate over what the best way to approach it. There are two basic models for free Web sites:

1) The site has a certain amount of free content, but, based on perceived value, popular & important content is reserved for paid subscribers. This naturally entices casual visitors to become paid visitors.

2) Alternately, the site gives everything free of charge because it's ad-supported. Advertisers feel they're getting good value by approaching the kinds of audiences the site attracts. In return, they want numbers to verify as much of their goals as possible. This means hits, conversion rates, etc. It's all transparent to the site visitor (except the ads).

I guess there's a third scenario where an "angel" (like a private investor or Google) with tons of money comes along and decides to host/run things as a "public service" of sorts. But this is pretty rare.

This is a completely free site and it always will be, so #2 is the way we've gone (against MANY people saying we should go with #1). This means we need to supply our advertisers with enough information to "guarantee" they're investing their money correctly and that's in several ways (number of registered users is one...the more, the better).

Additionally, in this specific case, the play texts are all there for anyone to use. Go and copy/paste scene by scene to do what you want with it under the GPL license. But we put some extra development into making all the scenes appear on a single page and decided to keep that for registered users (among other benefits). It's a convenience because the content is already there, you just want it in a slightly different format. For that you have to register. In scenario #2, we need to have things like that to ensure the site as a whole can remain free to everyone. Registering is free and it's a very simple process (required by many sites), so it's, in essence, a business decision to reserve these conveniences in exchange for the site as a whole being free.

One of the things I should have done a long time ago, which I started to do a few weeks ago, was to put together a page explaining the benefits of registering. I hadn't made it public yet, but here it is (in progress) so you can see what I'm talking about:

http://www.playshakespeare.com/register

Any input or thoughts on any of these things is appreciated.
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